Episode 260 - Top Genie Book: Kenyatta Berry Maps Out The Ultimate “How To”/ Old Suitcase Causes Family History Center AdventureNov 18, 2018
Host Scott Fisher opens the show with David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.com. The guys start by talking about the strange way in which David received his names. Then, the guys talk about the controversy of using DNA to help solve cold cases, and a great article on genetic genealogy from Bloomberg. How many different types of discoveries have been made from DNA? David maps out a diverse hodgepodge of discoveries. DNA testing is now moving on to animals and plants. David has the details. David then shares great news for Irish researchers. David’s Blogger Spotlight shines on the UK’s Caryn Cummings at ProfessionalFamilyHistory.co.uk/blog. Karen blogs about “demystifying DNA.”
Next, Fisher catches up with Kenyatta Berry, well known for her time on “Genealogy Roadshow” on PBS. Kenyatta is one of America’s foremost experts on African-American and slave research. She has just come out with a new book, though, for everyone. It’s called “The FamilyTree Toolkit: A Comprehensive Guide To Uncovering Your Ancestry And Researching Genealogy.” Kenyatta shares her genealogical journey and explains some of the concepts you’ll find in her book that you won’t find anywhere else.
Then, the director of the Family History Center in Phoenix, Arizona, visits with Fisher about a certain suitcase that made itself known to the staff at the Center. And what was in that suitcase led them on quite a genealogical adventure.
Tom Perry takes the week off this week as we talk preservation. Filling in is Randy Fredlund from Vivid-Pix. Randy is a long standing photo expert and former employee of Kodak. He explains some of the reasons your photos change colors, fade, or lose contrast. And some of those things you can actually do something about.
That’s all this week on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show!
Transcript of Episode 260
Host: Scott Fisher with guest David Allen Lambert
Segment 1 Episode 260
Fisher: Welcome to America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth, on the program where we shake your family tree and watch the nuts fall out. And this episode is brought to you by BYUtv’s Relative Race. Hey, it’s been a long time since we’ve had Kenyatta Berry on the show. You may recall her from PBS’s Genealogy Roadshow some time back. She’s come up with a brand new book. It’s “The Family Tree Toolkit” and we’re going to talk to Kenyatta about all that’s in there for you to learn from, coming up here in about ten minutes or so. And then later in the show we’re going to a man called Gene Carruth. He’s with the Family History Center in Phoenix, Arizona where an interesting item was brought to their attention recently and led to quite the adventure. You’re going to want to hear what he has to say. But right now, let’s head out to Boston, and the Chief Genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and AmericanAncestors.org. It is David Allen Lambert. How are you David?
David: Hey, I’m doing good. How about yourself, Fish?
Fisher: I am doing fine. You know, you’ve told me in the past that the David part came because your mother liked Davy Jones of the Monkees.
David: Actually, my sister had a crush on him but as the story goes, not my mother. [Laughs]
Fisher: [Laughs] Not your mom? Okay, so your mom deferred to your sister to name you.
David: Yeah, and they picked it out of the hat the old traditional way, you know.
Fisher: And what’s the Allen part? Is the Allen an old family name or something?
David: I wish it was. Unfortunately, it turns out I thought it was just a connecting name like John Francis, Mary Ellen, David Allen because I’ve seen David Allens before. About two weeks ago I asked my sister something about my name. And she said, “Well, you know where your middle name comes from.” I said, “No.” She said, “Allen Ladd. Mom liked him.” [Laughs]
Fisher: Oh, okay, so it’s sis who got to give you the first name. Mom gave you the middle name.
David: And dad gave me the surname! [Laughs]
Fisher: And dad gave you the surname! Well, what a collaboration that was!
David: [Laughs] It’s a little fun story. Now I can pass on to my kids.
Fisher: Yeah. [Laughs] All right, let’s get on to our Family Histoire News today. What do you have for us?
David: Well, I’m going to lead off with our good friend CeCe Moore, who we know was on 60 Minutes recently, and it’s a good story on Extreme Genes and it’s entitled “Your DNA Is Out There.” Do you want law enforcement to use it? And it really brings up a good point and CeCe talks about it. And I just want to ask you, how do you feel about your DNA potentially being used for catching a criminal?
Fisher: Well, you know I am a volunteer deputy sheriff.
David: That’s true.
Fisher: In my own mind I’m thinking, “Well, why not?” I know there are some thoughts about people overseas having their DNA used by some of the police force, and these are choices that people have to make. But when you look at some of the cases that are being solved, now they’re not going to be using this on, you know, people sticking chewing gum under a statue’s armpit here.
Fisher: This is going to be for murders and really very serious crimes and I’m all for it, just like CeCe is.
David: So am I. I feel if my first or second cousin or third cousin for that matter went out and was a mass murderer, sure, my DNA can help catch him, go for it.
Fisher: Yeah, you’ve got to check out this story. It’s on ExtremeGenes.com and it’s probably the best story I’ve ever seen written about genetic genealogy and it’s in Bloomberg.
David: Well, my next story actually has to do with DNA as well. There’s a great article also on Extreme Genes dealing with some of the shocking DNA test discoveries and some of the topics include of course, switched at birth, finding out that you had a brother you didn’t know, or a sibling you didn’t know, how about the one baby at the hospital? [Laughs]
Fisher: Yeah, that happens unfortunately more than we knew.
David: Um hmm. Finding out that you’re Native American, finding out that your neighbor was your father. [Laughs]
David: So, these are really fun stories, so I really think that people should get in there and read this for just another reason to visit ExtremeGenes.com.
Fisher: Yeah, it’s a whole bunch of stories there. It’s like twenty of them, but they’re only like a paragraph each and each one of them is a tasty morsel, so sink your teeth into that one.
David: And if any of our listeners have something that’s even better than any of those twenty, please contact Fish or myself. We’d love to have you on the show. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yes, we’d love to hear that. It is amazing that the variety of things that come from DNA testing, In fact, it seems to me right now that scientists out there are starting to go in a whole new direction with DNA.
David: You’re right! They are going in so many new directions. You know, a pet at home may be part of a project. There’s now a new effort to go and sequence out the DNA of animals on earth to record an enormous genetics project. And this is exciting to think that Fido down the street could be cousins with Fifi across the street, you know.
Fisher: [Laughs] That happens all the time David. We don’t need DNA for that!
David: Yeah, when a dog busts out of the yard, then you’re getting the paternity suit from the neighbor because of the new puppies.
Fisher: And the puppies were switched at birth. Who knew?
David: I know. I mean, exciting DNA stories will be on our pets soon. This is great stuff.
Fisher: I know. And by the way, we’re also getting into plants with this. They’re trying to do all genomes of all these creatures and plants all around the world. They’re not getting into the bacteria though, because they say that would just take thousands of years.
David: Well, doing plants that really prove they are branching out in the field of genealogy.
Fisher: Ooh that’s very bad. Yeah, thank you.
David: You’re welcome. Next I want to talk about a story that goes across to the Emerald Isle where thousands new Irish family records are now being edited. The Irish Genealogical Research Society has improved and increased their research records. They have over 14,000 names which now brings three databases they have to mind, to over 270,000 names to search.
Fisher: Yeah, and this is great too because many of these are from obscure records, meaning that you’re going to find things in there that are missed by the larger records like the censuses. Of course, so many of those are missing in Ireland, so it’s really great to hear constantly improving news from the Emerald Isle because so many Americans have Irish ancestry.
David: As do I. My blogger spotlight this week shines across to the British Isles where the blog of Caryn Cummings, which is located on professionalfamilyhistory.co.uk/blog, and she has a great recent set of articles on demystifying DNA. Sort of like DNA101. This is not something obviously CeCe Moore needs to read or Blaine Bettinger, or anyone, but if you’re new to it or you’re mystified by DNA, why not take a surf over to this website and check out this blog, professionalfamilyhistory.co.uk/blog. Hey, by the way, if you’re not a member of NEHGS, you can join by using the checkout code “Extreme” and save $20 on AmericanAncestors.org.
Fisher: All right David, thanks so much. We’ll talk to you again next week.
David: All right my friend.
Fisher: And coming up next, you’ll remember her from PBS’s Genealogy Road Show, Kenyatta Berry talks about her new book “The Family Tree Toolkit.” That’s coming up next in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 2 Episode 260
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Kenyatta Berry
Fisher: Welcome back. It’s America’s Family History Show, Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It is Fisher here, your Radio Roots Sleuth and this segment is brought to you by Legacy Tree Genealogist go to LegacyTree.com. And it’s been a long time, I don’t know why; she’s been a very busy lady the last couple of years, but my good friend Kenyatta Berry is on the line. Well know genealogist, slave researcher, expert in so many areas of genealogy and she’s come out with a new book. How are you Kenyatta?
Kenyatta: I’m great. Thanks for having me on.
Fisher: Boy, you’ve been a busy lady lately. I mean, I’m just looking at the title of your book I’m thinking it took you a month to write the title. It’s like five pages.
Fisher: “The Family Toolkit: A Comprehensive Guide to Uncovering your Ancestry and Researching your Genealogy.” It’s really long!
Kenyatta: Yes. Yes. Well, I will give credit to the publisher for that. They thought of the title. I just wrote everything inside of it.
Fisher: [Laugh]s Well, that’s awesome. And you cover a lot of ground. Now, you’re known largely for amazing expertise in slavery research and African American research, but this covers everyone, and it’s very much a 101 book, isn’t it?
Kenyatta: It is. I wrote it with the beginner in mind. You know, I thought about when I started genealogy over twenty years ago, right. What tools, or workbook, or handbook I would want to have to help me on my journey to discover my family history. And so I wrote the book thinking about the person that gets their DNA results and all of a sudden they have more questions. What book would they want to pick up, and how could I guide them on that journey of discovery.
Fisher: Boy, that’s awesome. You know, I think about that. When you started out in genealogy, you probably never imagined you would be on Genealogy Roadshow on PBS, never imagined you’d be doing a book tour now, as you’ve done. I mean it’s quite the life.
Kenyatta: It is. It is quite the life. You know, I have, at least so many times before, as many people know while I was filming Genealogy Roadshow up until last year I was working full time in software sales and filming the show, and I wrote the book while still working full time. So, that was a bit of a challenge. But I got through it and last year I decided I really wanted to make this book a success. And the way to do that was to put everything I had into promoting it, to do more along genealogy speaking, and I thought you know, you spend so much time writing this it would be a disservice to you if you didn’t go all in on it. So, I left my job in December and here I am, almost a year later and the book came out and I am very excited.
Fisher: Well, what I like about it too is, you not only cover the “How tos” of genealogy and for people who are just getting into it, but you include a lot of stories in there as well, which is really kind of what we try to do right here on Extreme Genes. We talk about various techniques, but what are the stories you’ve found as a result of those? So, let’s hear a couple from your book.
Kenyatta: Yes. So, I start the book out with my genealogy journey. I balance both my maternal and paternal ancestors, right, and sharing information about them. But the book starts with my maternal ancestors who were in Culpeper County. They were enslaved in Culpeper in Madison County, Virginia. And they actually migrated, my third great grandfather James Phillip Sellers and his wife Emily and their children, and migrated around 1885, 1886 to upstate New York to a little town called Leroy. Now, basically this is near Rochester, so they’re closer to Detroit than they are to New York City officially.
Kenyatta: What’s interesting, what I talk about in the book as well is, about two years ago in 2016 I was on sabbatical and I had also been going to promoting Genealogy Roadshow so I went to Rochester because I know I had relatives in that area. And that’s where I met a couple of my relatives and I talk about how we met, how I started in Culpeper, and then how eventually all the descendants, my cousins of the Sellers family, and met them in 2016 in probably around April–ish and then went back in November for the 125th anniversary of the church my family has been attending since it was founded. And there I’ve met more cousins. I was able to attend the service and all the events for the weekend. And it was really cool for me because my great grandmother Esther Louis Kendrick died there in 1983 and since then there hasn’t really been a connection between her family in Detroit and her family in upstate. So, I am hoping to bridge that connection.
Fisher: Wow. And I love the way you’re tying that in. And it is a chain reaction isn’t it? You find something in a record, you follow it up, and then you meet living breathing people that are tied to that record that you discovered. And that’s what’s so fun. I think this is the closes thing we’re ever going to get to time travel.
Kenyatta: Yes. I totally agree with you on that. It is.
Kenyatta: It is absolutely the closes thing. And I love that in finding these folks and connecting with them, I’m also able to bring their family history to life because a lot of my cousins didn’t know any of this information. When I first met them in 2016, they were taking pictures of my PowerPoint slides. And I’m like, “I can give you the entire family tree.” I mean, I’ve been doing this for twenty years. We’re related!
Kenyatta: But they had no idea. You know, cousins that grew up in the same town not knowing each other, were connecting because of my book tour in Rochester. So, I was in Rochester again on October 30th promoting the book and meeting with family.
Fisher: Wow. So, over and over you just keep going back at this point.
Kenyatta: I do. Because I find that it’s great. The thing I love about Rochester as well is they’ve been really supportive of WXXI, the PBS station there. And after my appearance they’re actually rerunning seasons one and two of Genealogy Roadshow.
Fisher: Oh how fun.
Kenyatta: So, I really love going there.
Fisher: Yeah, absolutely. Well, let’s talk about some things that are in this book. Some resources that are kind of unique to what you’re doing. Because I know right now according to Thomas MacEntee in Chicago, yours is the number one book in genealogy right now.
Kenyatta: Ah yes, so I hear [laughs] which is exciting!
Kenyatta: I think one of the things that was unique that I’ve mentioned was, what would I want when I start, what would be a great thing to have, and one thing that was painful but yet critical for me, is the vital record sections. So, I have creates state by state charts that list basically when state registration started for births, marriage, deaths, and even divorce records, as well as online availability. Now, I do not, even though it’s saying comprehensive, I did not put every online resource, right? I tried to do a mix of resources from multiple sites. And then as well I included restrictions that a researcher or family historian may face in trying to uncover their family history, right, as we know the law constantly change.
Kenyatta: But that was one of the things that I felt was critical and it was unique and cross-checking it and fact-checking it was painful. But I think it turned out very well. And I use it all the time so I know that I did the right thing. [Laughs]
Fisher: Right. [Laughs] Well, and that’s right. You’ve obviously put together something that’s very comprehensive here around the country and that’s a great resource that’s just not out there in any one place.
Kenyatta: Yeah. And the other thing I try to do as well is weave in history. As you know, when you’re been doing genealogy so long, you tend to become more of a history buff. I wasn’t a history buff in school.
Fisher: I wasn’t either. [Laughs]
Kenyatta: Yeah. And then all of a sudden you’re doing research, I’m watching documentaries on Italians coming to America, or the Chinese Exclusion Act, or you know, military stuff, right, things that I would have never even thought about.
Kenyatta: But I felt hat I needed to know. And so incorporating history into the book is something that I’ve done. And one thing that’s kind of interesting that I would talk to people about is in 1840. The free people of color were listed. There was a scandal so to speak with the 1840 census. Because a lot of free people of color were listed as insane, or idiotic, one of those two categories. And the American Statistical Association basically did an investigation because some of the numbers were so high and they were skewed that basically free people of color that didn’t even live in the town were listed that way. And it was kind of done to give the perception of why African Americans shouldn’t be free.
Fisher: Oh wow.
Kenyatta: That’s something I’ve discovered years ago.
Fisher: I’d never heard that.
Kenyatta: I know. So, I thought it was important and that it was unique enough to put in the book because these are the little tid bits of things that help when you’re analysing, researching, and interpreting a record, right?
Kenyatta: And that’s something that you should know.
Fisher: Yeah. These stories will often inform what you research, right?
Fisher: The situations come up and this timing and maybe that explains something that you find in a record concerning one of your people.
Kenyatta: It does yep. I tried to put those little things in there as well. And a lot of tips, you know, genealogy can be overwhelming. I mean, that’s why people hire me or you or others because it’s overwhelming to get started. And I wanted to kind of help guide people down the road and give them something that’s kind of encouraging to say look, I know it’s overwhelming. You’re going to go down a rabbit hole, you’ll be up til 3:00 a.m., but understand that this is something that is extremely informative, valuable, and you’ll be a different person once you complete this journey.
Fisher: It really is true isn’t it? You’re never the same after this stuff because I think what we do is wind up benefiting from the life lessons of those who came before us. So it’s almost like an extension of our own life experience through them.
Kenyatta: Absolutely. Absolutely. More than names, dates, and places, this gives historical context. This brings them back to life. And then you start to get people talking. When I was in Rochester I went to visit my 92 year old cousin. I’ve met Marianne Sellers Philip in 2003. And what’s interesting about her was almost coming full circle because in 1996 I wrote to the town clerk, because back then you had to write to people to get stuff. [Laughs]
Fisher: Yes. I remember.
Kenyatta: So, I wrote to the town clerk. Her daughter lived across the street from Marianne. Marianne provided that first-level information on my mother’s family, her maternal side. And it was so interesting because to come full circle and have my book come out, and to have her host me in 2003, then to see her in 2016, and then again just to see her a few weeks ago, and be at her house, and go through the photos. And a lot of photos that I have are photos that Marianne gave me. So, it was really, really cool that I was able to get some time with her.
Fisher: Well, and I’m sure she’s very proud you too.
Kenyatta: Yes. Yes.
Fisher: [Laughs] All right, so where can people get the book? It’s called, “The Family Tree Toolkit: A Comprehensive Guide to Uncovering Your Ancestry and Researching Genealogy.” It’s from my guest Kenyatta Berry. Where can we get it?
Kenyatta: Well, the book is available online. You can get it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and it will be heading to book stores soon. And we went into our second printing before the book came out even came out so I’m excited about that.
Fisher: Well, Kenyatta, this is a great accomplishment. I’m really excited for you, and appreciate it too because this is a book that needs to be out there. The tidal wave is coming on especially with DNA and all that’s happening, and you’re doing great stuff. Thanks for coming on.
Kenyatta: Great. Thanks for having me.
Fisher: And coming up next, we’re going to talk to the Director of the Family History Center in Phoenix, Arizona. He’s Gene Carruth. And they had a real interesting discovery there that turned into a major adventure. You’re going to want to hear about that coming up next in five minutes on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 3 Episode 260
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Gene Carruth
Fisher: Welcome back to America’s Family History Show Extreme Genes and ExtremeGenes.com. It’s Fisher at this end, your Radio Roots Sleuth and I’m thinking back to a day many years ago when I was a child and there was a local pond in the back woods of Connecticut where I liked to fish. And this one day this huge rainstorm came up just as I discovered something in the water. It was an old trunk and I was convinced that there was treasure in that trunk and somehow I got it out of the lake and through the pouring rain literally rolled it through the woods and back to my house so I could open it in the garage and discover how I rich I was going to be for the rest of my life. Needless to say, there was nothing in it, but there was treasure to be found in a mysterious suitcase that’s been brought to the attention of a group of genies in Phoenix, Arizona and we have one of those people on the line right now. He’s Gene Carruth. He’s the Director. It’s the Phoenix Family History Center, right Gene?
Gene: Right. The Phoenix Arizona Family History Center, one of the five thousand centers around the world supported by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Fisher: Well, when I heard about the story I just perked up immediately because, you know, mysterious suitcases... doesn’t everybody want to open that up and see what’s in there? First of all, how did this come to your attention?
Gene: We have a patron that came into the Family History Center and said, “You know, I’ve got this old suitcase at home. I’ve had it for several years.” She says, “I was at a memorial building where they display the cremains for people who have been cremated and there was this old suitcase and they said they were going to throw it out because they’re doing some remodeling.” She looked at it and saw all these photos and documents and said, “You can’t throw that out. That’s a treasure chest of valuable information.” So she took it home. She forgot about it for several years then came to see us from 2016/2017 I think and said, “Hey, I’ve got this.” And she explained that and I said, bring it in let’s see what we can do.
Fisher: [Laughs] So, you get the suitcase, how beat up was this thing?
Gene: Well, it was an old brown suitcase the edges were worn and torn a little bit. Obviously it had seen some life.
Fisher: Yeah, yeah seen better days.
Gene: It’s been around a time or two.
Fisher: Sure. You know, I was picturing in my mind for some reason alligator skin, you know as those old things would look? [Laughs]
Gene: Well, it was kind of a light brown, nice looking brown suitcase but yeah it had travelled.
Fisher: With locks open?
Gene: The locks were available. They were open. We opened it up and lo and behold inside were all these photos, wedding photos. There were report cards from back in 1926.
Gene: Photos of people and there’s the World Congress Bowling League.
Gene: Many documents.
Gene: So, we had a team of about three or four people who said, let’s tackle it. I said, well let’s find out who this is and see if we can find an owner.
Gene: An all steak dinner to whoever finds the owner.
Fisher: Very nice choice! So, you went through these things obviously to figure out who the folks were. Were they well marked first of all?
Gene: Oh yes. There were all kinds of documents, there was high school information. So, we were very quickly able to identify that this belonged to a lady named Elizabeth Mason Lewes. She was from Pennsylvania. She had passed away in 2012 and was buried here in Arizona. And somehow this suitcase wound up at the memorial building where here remains are. Well, the next thing was, well what do we do with it?
Gene: It’s great material let’s see if we can find a living person who may be interested.
Fisher: Now, did she have a spouse and kids? What did you find out about her personally?
Gene: She did. She had a spouse. She had children and one person built a big pedigree chart on Ancestry, a couple of hundred people belonging to this family line. And through that we were able to find a son of this lady who actually lived in Arizona and was called “Surprise Arizona.”
Fisher: Okay, very familiar with it because of the minor league baseball complex out there.
Gene: Right. So, we put a letter together and identified a number of things that we had found in this suitcase and sent it to him. He got the letter and his first reaction is, “This has got to be a scam.”
Gene: Somebody wants to sell me a suitcase.
Fisher: Now wait a minute, did you email it or did you drop it in the mail?
Gene: We used snail mail. We mailed it to him and said it was from the Phoenix Arizona Family History Center and I signed the letter. His wife says, “Well, look at it and read it. You need to call this guy and see what it’s all about you. You’ll know whether it’s a scam. And he called us. We explained what we had and he said, “Oh my. I thought we had all the suitcases.”
Fisher: [Laughs] Wait a minute.
Gene: I thought we had all the information.
Fisher: Wait a minute, “all the suitcases?!” Were there more than one?
Gene: Came to find out they moved this lady out of her house a couple of times and she wound up in an assisted living area. And he said, “We brought home two or three suitcases of pictures and documents.”
Gene: He was not aware of this one.
Fisher: But they missed one at the memorial place.
Gene: Somehow it wound up at the memorial place. He was just excited when he came in.
Fisher: Yeah I can imagine.
Gene: He saw the suitcase, we opened it up and he started going through the information and there were some photos of him as a little boy in the suitcase.
Fisher: Oh how fun. Wow! I hope you’ve got some good video on that.
Gene: We do. In fact, the Fox News station locally was there.
Gene: They came and interviewed him and video the thing and it’s out on our website.
Fisher: What was the best picture that was in there? Let’s start with the oldest, okay?
Gene: Ohh, there was a wedding photo. So, for the lady who died she was like 83 years old in 2012 so that might have been one of the oldest photos.
Fisher: Um hmm.
Gene: And a lot of family photos, all these series of report cards. She was a great student.
Gene: A lot of A’s, she did well.
Fisher: Well, what a great find.
Gene: And pictures of her husband and his bowling league. There’s quite a few pictures of him and other bowlers, some big national bowling league.
Fisher: Wow. So, is the son a big genie himself? Does he do a lot of research? Does he organize his stuff?
Gene: He does not do a lot of research. We showed him the Ancestry pedigree chart we developed and that is now being made available to him and to his sister who he recently contacted and sent her a link to the video of opening the suitcase with the news station. So, a lot of his family members apparently have been notified, within 24 hours they knew all about the suitcase.
Fisher: Isn’t that great? Isn’t that fun? You know, it’s one of those really uniting things. Has this kind of thing happened before in your center?
Gene: We’ve had a couple of things like this where we identified some things that were left but nothing quite as exciting as this one.
Gene: Because it was a nice big bundle. It probably had several hundred photographs in their various types. And it told a story to the point that we could develop a great pedigree chart and then find a living son, living close.
Fisher: I love that. I love that kind of thing. And you know it happens all the time and there are so many people for instance who might find just one photograph on eBay and buy it, and then find somebody it belongs to on the other side of the country.
Gene: That’s right.
Fisher: And the next thing you know these people are putting their history together for them and I’ve been the beneficiary of things like that. And then, the one who’s also provided things like that. In fact, I sent an invitation to a wedding from 1931 to a descendant of that couple just this past week.
Fisher: So, I’m really looking forward to hearing their reaction when they see that because I haven’t told them yet what they’ve got coming. [Laughs]
Fisher: Well, Gene thanks so much for coming on and sharing your story. That’s just an incredible thing. I’m sure it’s still going to be the talk of the Family History Center there in Phoenix and we appreciate you coming on and sharing that with us.
Gene: Well, I appreciate the phone call and the opportunity to share the story.
Fisher: And coming up, it’s time to talk preservation, Randy Fredlund in from Vivid-Pix for Tom Perry this week, talking about your photographs on Extreme Genes, America’s Family History Show.
Segment 4 Episode 260
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Randy Fredlund
Fisher: Hey, and we’re back at it, talking preservation on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. I am Fisher, your Radio Roots Sleuth. Tom Perry is off this week, and I'm talking to Randy Fredlund from Vivid-Pix. And Randy is one of these photographic geniuses that has come up with this great software I've been telling you about, called RESTORE. And I thought, today we'd talk a little bit about why pictures do what they do, Randy, I mean, you've been in this your whole life, you worked for Kodak. What makes pictures fade and change colors? And some pictures do and some pictures don't.
Randy: Well, to begin with, we have lots of dyes that over the years have changed a great deal.
Randy: And unfortunately, even though we look at still pictures in particular and look at them and say, "Gee, that's a moment in time frozen." It’s not quite frozen.
Fisher: What do you mean by that?
Randy: Well, what we look at when we're looking at a picture, let's say a black and white picture of your great grandmother for example, the dyes that are in the paper, in this case the black dye is not as permanent as we'd like to think it is.
Fisher: Okay, now you're talking about a certain type of photograph though, how far back are you looking here?
Randy: Basically back to the beginning of photographic time.
Randy: In the '50s, color dyes came out, which provided a whole new slew of problems, because in the rush to get things to market, the providers of color paper provided dyes that were not quite as color fast as we might like.
Fisher: As compared to the old black and white ink from great grandma's time?
Randy: Exactly. Those black and white shots last a whole lot better, although they do fade. They're not as bad as the early color pictures.
Fisher: Yeah, yeah that would make sense. I was just looking at one the other day and it just kind of turned red for some reason and it dated back to the '60s, somewhere there. And I would imagine that was when some of that paper was out, yes?
Randy: Yes, that's part of it. The other great deal of the fact is how that picture was stored.
Randy: So, if that picture was stored at 0 degrees with 40% humidity under Yucca Mountain, then it’s probably doing really well.
Fisher: [Laughs] So it really depends obviously where you live, right, and humidity and temperature, whether you're closet is up against an outdoor wall, all those things that we often talk about here. I mean, they can really, not only mess up the color and the contrast and the fading, but can also just destroy the paper itself.
Randy: Yeah, if the humidity is wrong, the paper can become brittle. Also, you know, you get in your time machine and go back and make sure that they're not using acid based papers.
Randy: There's all kinds of things that can go wrong. Not only on the basis of the paper, but the color dyes within and also whatever you stored those photos in.
Fisher: And probably with as well, right? I mean other paper around it maybe that had some acid in it. If you were to pick one place in the United States and say, "Boy the ideal place to store your photographs!" I mean assuming you keep it in a reasonably constant temperature and humidity, where would that place be?
Randy: International Polls, Minnisota.
Fisher: Really? Why?
Randy: [Laughs] Well, it’s probably colder than it needs to be, but in order to do the accelerated testing for longevity of dyes, heat is always a plot.
Randy: And what happens with testing of photographs like materials is, they subject them to high heat and high humidity. So the reverse is pretty much what you'd like to see for storage.
Fisher: So you want some place a little chillier with reasonable humidity, but not too much.
Randy: Yeah, and not too much sun. You want your pictures in the dark except when you're looking at them.
Fisher: Okay, so that's the color and the dyes. Are we talking similar affects based on fading and contrast?
Randy: Yeah. Actually, what happens is, if you imagine little bits of red, green and blue in your pictures.
Randy: They don't stay as dark as you'd like them to be. They change. They get lighter. They are no longer as dark as originally printed. And so, not only does that change the colors, it changes the contrast as well.
Fisher: Wow! And obviously you guys have come up with a solution. We'll talk a little more about that in the next segment and why it is our pictures go the way they go. We'll have that coming up in three minutes on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com.
Segment 5 Episode 260
Host: Scott Fisher with guest Randy Fredlund
Fisher: All right, we're back at it for our final segment this week on Extreme Genes, America's Family History Show and ExtremeGenes.com. Fisher here, talking to Randy Fredlund, he's with Vivid-Pix, the creators of the great software we've been telling you about called RESTORE. And Randy, it’s amazing to dig into your head about how our pictures get destroyed before we could actually use your software to restore them. And you mentioned during the break here something about a slinky. How does that apply to a photograph?
Randy: Well, I like to think of the different channels, meaning the different colors in any photograph as corresponding to a slinky. The metal ones, not the plastic ones.
Fisher: Yeah. That's right. Plastic ones are awful.
Randy: The metal ones are much better.
Fisher: Yes, they are. [Laughs]
Randy: The ones that could climb down the stairs without your help. Now if you take a slinky and think of the, let's just use black and white for the moment, the whitest white as being one end of the color spectrum or the tone scale, the other end of the slinky being black. When that print is printed, if it’s properly printed, your slinky will be stretched across the entire length from white to black.
Fisher: Huh! Okay.
Randy: Making sense here?
Fisher: Yeah, absolutely.
Randy: And what happens, as time goes on, that part of the slinky that was white gets sullied if you will, and becomes less white, and the part that was black in particular becomes less black. So instead of having a slinky nicely stretched across the whole range that it's supposed to be, now your slinky is compressed down into a much smaller space.
Fisher: So you've created this software called RESTORE from Vivid-Pix. How do you take that and make it work? How do you basically stretch out the slinky again?
Randy: Well, part of what we do is, we take the scan that you provide and read it into our software. And a portion of what we're doing is contrast expansion. So we take what is no longer white, its where the top of your slinky is and expand that out to what is really white. And then we take the bottom of the slinky and expand that down to where it’s really black. And in between, all those other spirals on the slinky get correspondently expanded back to the appropriate places along the whole tone scale.
Fisher: Okay, now we're talking just black and white or do you also manage color in the same way?
Randy: Color's a little different, but there are some similarities. And now, instead of a single slinky for just black and white, now there's three slinkies, let's just use red, green and blue. If you have a red slinky and a green slinky and a blue slinky, what you'll see is that, yes, they've all been compressed from what they should be, from white to black, meaning from completely no red to all the red you could possibly put in the paper.
Randy: And no green to all the green. And no blue to all the blue. And they've all been compressed. But part of the issue here is, they've all been compressed differently. They're not the same. So you can't use the single fix in order to make your entire color picture come back to life.
Fisher: With RESTORE though, you can.
Randy: Right. But I'm saying that, what we did for black and white, just a simple contrast expansion, that's a little over simplified when you get to fixing color.
Fisher: Wow! Well, it’s amazing what your software does. I love it. We talk about it all the time. It’s RESTORE from Vivid-Pix, and I appreciate what you're doing for our Extreme Genes listeners to making 10 pictures available to be fixed for free through RESTORE from Vivid-Pix. And all they've got to do is, go to Vivid-Pix.com/ExtremeGenes and you’re right there, and you can test it out and test drive it. Great work, Randy. Strong stuff. Thank so much for coming on, and appreciate the slinky explanation!
Randy: No problem. And unfortunately, I'm the guy at the end of the support line, me and Cindy. So we're there to help you if you need it.
Fisher: [Laughs] All right, great stuff. Thank so much. Randy Fredlund, he's from Vivid-Pix. And I never thought I'd be talking slinkies on this show. Well, that's it for this week. Thank so much for joining us. Hey, don't forget to sign up for our Weekly Genie Newsletter. It’s free! Take a look, it’s on ExtremeGenes.com. We don't share your email address with anybody. And we do share lots of links to great stories and past shows and my blog every week. And you can also signup to support the show through our Patron Club. Go to Patreon.com/ExtremeGenes. And remember, as far as everyone knows, we're a nice, normal family!